When life gives you lemons …

… make lemonade. When life gives you workshoppers … workshop!

Friday was an absolute blast. Yes, for those who care, I wore the red boots and the Armani red-stripe shirt. Yes, I did throw up for three days before hand, and didn’t sleep properly the whole of the previous week. Yes, it all went fine in the end.

I was delivering a workshop on Recession-Proof Writing in Oxford. We stayed at the Malmaison, which is the old Oxford prison, converted to rather nice rooms, like a cross between the TV series Porridge and a hotel suite. Quite bizarre in exactly the kind of way that appeals to me most. But I still didn’t manage to sleep.

Teaching, for me, is a privilege and a terror. As a profound recluse, I limit my teaching time and always try to teach something that pushes my boundaries, and the boundaries of the people I’m working with. This is because I couldn’t bear to lose a week of sleep over a mundane day’s teaching! But it’s also because I feel honoured that people will spend time listening to me, and I think it’s important to try and share with them something that they wouldn’t hear elsewhere – as a result, my workshops are quite different to those of other people. Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes I fall off the tightrope and bruise my arse most royally. This time I didn’t. My thanks go to:

• Anna, whom I called Kate by mistake, because she looked like the young Kate O’Mara, whose drama-documentary series proposal had us all fascinated.
• Babs, for making us laugh with one of the funniest outlines for a series of novels ever. For steering me back to the station. For being ‘an absolute brick and a topping chum’ and she’ll know why that’s appropriate.
• Brian, for buying me a much-needed drink, for getting what the day was all about, and for immediately putting it into action! It’s great when a plan comes together …
• Iona, the perfect pitch-mistress, who came to learn and stayed to teach a masterclass in getting it right. Kudos.
• Jean, who paid me the immense compliment of signing up after she’d heard me describe the class, for steering this hapless idiot around Oxford and for being a brilliant convertor of other people’s ideas into concepts.
• Jenny, who waited until the very end of the day to share the most fascinating story ever; a really supportive workshopper. Such empathy should be celebrated.
• Liz, whose pitching skills and willingness to start things off were much appreciated. A real contributor.
• Neela, who play I really want to go and see and who asked quiet, cogent and illuminating questions that helped me express my ideas more clearly.
• Nick, for not being Maddy, but for producing a novel outline that went from good to stellar during the course of the day.
• Yvonne, for sharing a good luck story that gave me a teaching opportunity that every workshop facilitator dreams of, and whose byline will be seen in quality magazines very soon now.

Thank you all.


  1. Nik's Blog
    11th April 2009

    Thrilled it went well! Sounds wonderful and fun and productive.


  2. Kip de Moll
    14th April 2009

    When do you come to teach in Vermont?

  3. Kay Sexton
    18th April 2009

    Nik, thank you.

    Kip, as soon as you fix me a gig!


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